Brass chamber music is a genre about which many people know little or nothing at all. Omit the word ‘brass’ from the phrase, and many music lovers will respond, “Oh, yes – how I love string quartets,” referring to what is often considered the most sophisticated genre in Western music.
|The Pomona College Brass Quintet performs at Los Angeles' California Club.|
That chamber music also exists for brass instruments has come as a surprise to many people, including long-time music aficionados and music professors, despite the fact that its history – even according to a narrow definition of the term – can be traced back 200 years to the early 19th century. The history of music for small brass ensembles actually goes back much further – at least to the courtly trumpet ensembles of the 16thcentury – and is an important and interesting record of a phenomenon that is still enjoyed today by performers and concertgoers around the world. Brass quintets, in particular, abound in 21st-century amateur and professional music circles.
Brass chamber music has figured prominently in my life. I have performed brass chamber music since my childhood, taught classes and workshops in brass chamber music for many years, composed and published many chamber brass works (explore RaymondBurkhart.com and its online music store for more about that), and released a CD of my compositions for brass quintet. (To listen or purchase, see my Web site, or search on ‘Raymond David Burkhart’ in CDBaby and iTunes.) Even my PhD dissertation – which weighs in at 486 double-spaced pages – is in the field of brass chamber music. My overview there of brass chamber music and its history runs almost 120 pages. I have also given papers on brass chamber music in the US, France, and Scotland.
So the time has come to blog about brass chamber music. There is a lot to say, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about it here. For instance, I’ll be giving a paper entitled “American Ladies’ Brass Quartets Before 1900: “Clever, versatile, and fair to look upon” at this summer’s Third Historic Brass Symposium in New York. My latest commission – to be premiered this coming May in Stanford, California – is for brass quintet. My newest publication – Steven J. Williams’ Mass– is scored for brass quintet. I’ll blog about all this and more, but it seemed a good idea to introduce the concept of ‘brass chamber music’ to the blogosphere before I start writing about it more frequently.
So, welcome! You are now ‘in-the-know’ about brass chamber music. You are among the initiated – the brass intelligentsia. You can refer to the genre knowingly at parties and impress your dates with your erudition. But be sure to ‘follow’ my blog to get the latest scoop.
Musically yours, Dr. Ray